8 Things About College Campuses You May Not Have Known

Middlebury College

A guide to getting the most out of your campus visit

If you’re still in high school, or just haven’t visited a university before, then chances are that there are a few things about college campuses that you probably don’t know! We’re here to shed some light on what’s really happening on campus, from secret societies to empty classrooms, read on!

  1. Most colleges campus aren’t lively week-round

    You might have expected this to some extent, but it’s worth a reminder that college campuses can be seriously barren on certain days of the week. As a rule, we like to say: the closer the weekend, the quieter the campus. College administrators know that Thursdays are oftentimes big party nights and for this, most classes are scheduled towards the beginning of the week. It’s quite likely that by Friday afternoon, a campus will be entirely deserted (save a few students lounging in the quads). Keep this in mind when scheduling your visitation trips! Prioritize the beginning of the week and don’t plan on sitting in on class once weekend fever has set in.

  2. Some college campuses hold dark secrets

    While a fair share of college campuses hold ghost stories, we’re referring more here to the stories of the living, the secret societies that keep so many students, and prospective students, totally mystified and enthralled. If you’re lucky, your campus tour guide might allude to the existence of these societies, which are most prevalent at older colleges and universities. Even so, keep an eye out for suspicious symbols and verbiage around campus. At one certain school in Virginia, a cadaver skull can be spotted all about town, paying homage to a secret band of students!

  3. The library is a layer-cake of study intentions

    You heard us. While stepping foot inside a school’s library might feel like enough, you’ve only pierced the tip of the iceberg in doing so. Libraries are like layer-cakes, with each floor holding a different demographic of “studier”. Most commonly, the main level is the social scene, where unstressed students with minimal work chat, collaborate, and catch up. In order to glimpse the real worker bees, it’s imperative that you dig deeper. Explore the library basement or tip top floors for a glimpse into those who are knee-deep in exam prep, or finishing a thesis. This will provide you a more complete view of study culture and workload stress.

  4. The dining hall is often-times an under-classmen haunt

    While we like to think of the dining hall as a communal location, reality is that at most colleges and universities, the dining hall is more of an underclassmen establishment. Freshmen, and sometimes sophomores depend on the dining hall for daily meals, and flock to it as a social hub. Definitely head here for a glimpse into the freshman scene, but remember that upperclassmen (benefiting from off-campus housing and more autonomy), rarely frequent the dining hall with such regularity.

  5. Dorms and halls can be polarizing

    It’s a strange phenomenon, but worth noting, that at almost every school there’s an aura that forms around specific dorms, halls, and sometimes even quadrangles. For this, we recommend walking through at least two separate dorm buildings, where the overall vibe and environment can vary quite drastically. It’s beyond us how such subcultures develop and are sustained, but a fact’s a fact! Be sure to explore.

  6. The student scene at the gym reveals a lot

    Most likely you’re interested in the gym as a facility: the weight machines, the pilates studio, the cleanliness of the locker room. We’d argue that these factors, while important, are dwarfed by the relevance of the scene at the gym. Is it bustling or abandoned, silent or loud? Insight into gym culture truly reveals an important aspect of the student body’s mindset: commitment to fitness and to health. If you prioritize maintaining a healthy lifestyle, recognize the extent to which community attitude will impact your ability to commit to that, and keep this top of mind as you observe the activity at the gym, or fields.

  7. Off-campus housing is a must-see

    College culture expands well beyond the hard boundaries of campus. A college town, and the off-campus establishments most popular with the student body will greatly impact your experience there.  If you’re visiting a college or university where students are allowed or encouraged to live off-campus then it’s imperative you factor these areas into your tour. After all, you too could end up living there one day! In any case, off-campus housing provides a popular destination for nightly parties, events, and just general social activity. A campus might feel urban, but do the off-campus houses feel rural? If so, do you like that?

  8. Classroom fashion, matters

    We’ll end on a shallow note because well, why not! While it shouldn’t be important, classroom fashion does in fact, matter. The clothing that students opt to wear to class, or merely to campus, reflects greatly on college culture and overall mindset of the student body. Are students lounging in sweats, or sitting stiffly in suit shirts? There’s no correct dress code of course, but you need to assess what type of environment makes you comfortable (how proper, or casual are you willing to get on board with?) and keep that in mind when visiting a school.


We hope that you came away with some new campus intel. If we missed something, or if you have another expert tip, let us know in the comments sections below!